Tag Archives: family

Five Years?!

July 11, 2011.

I can’t remember what I was doing that day – but according to WordPress, I posted an ‘about me’ on this page. AKA I started “ceaseless serendipity” (first known as ‘Girl Meets World’), five whole years ago!

Wow… what was I doing five years ago? So much has happened. Five years ago, I was in high school. I was having a… rough patch. High school wasn’t easy, and to be honest, I was mostly doing things on my own. I still consider myself to be fairly independent, but now I have the most amazing friends, and I’m graduating from college in a few months. 2016 must have seemed so far away. Who would’ve thought I would be here now, right?

As an education major, I feel like I am obligated to do a then vs. now Venn Diagram. So here it is: What my life was like five years ago (the then) and today (the now).

venn-diagram

#comicsans

Two and a half years ago (a half-way marker), I was enjoying college and life in general: I was just beginning a summer internship at an orphanage in China, enjoying life, and about to begin my sophomore year in college – my personal favorite year, in my opinion. Now, I am thankful to be able to still enjoy the same college with many of the same friends I made freshman year. A lot has changed, but some things remain the same!

In my Venn Diagram, I forgot to include epilepsy (my seizures) – but I’ll leave that for another time. However, I’ll try to get a post in before the end of the month – November is epilepsy awareness month! woot woot! Another honorable mention: I’m teaching, for real! No, I don’t have my own classroom, but I am in schools, teaching kindergarteners. Now THAT is awesome! Also I’m still incredibly awkward.

Not everything that happens in life is awesome and worth having a party or blog post about. I get that – things like that have happened to me. For me, I process things by journaling: seeing them on paper (or a computer screen) makes craziness in life not that crazy, because they’re sitting on paper and not circling in my head. There are many of ways to process things that work much better for others, but that’s what’s good for me. I wonder about the readers of this blog – YOU! I know I don’t have a lot of readers, but I know a lot happens in your life. It’s not just me that is awkward and indecisive …right? In the grand scheme of things, five years isn’t that long. But it’s not all about me here – I’m sure a good amount of things happened in five years for you, too! I would love to hear about them in the comment section 🙂 Anyways: if the going is tough for you right now, know that sometimes you just have to wait it out… for a long time. Like, a REALLY long time – it might be more than five years. Read: good times are a’comin. 🙂

 

A Vermont ‘Spring’ Break

So, I know I haven’t written in a while. A huge thank-you to goes out to Jack and Andrea! I got your email, and greatly appreciate your loyalty!

I haven’t written about my life since my China trip. To make a long story short, after leaving China, my family went landed into San Francisco, meeting my mom’s brother and his family. We stayed at a nearby motel. Let me tell you, it is warm there! I felt like wearing shorts – a huge change from the cold that I had just escaped from. Time with family was nice, especially on a side that I don’t see very often. I came home, feeling that my Chinese had greatly improved. (It leaves you fast when you’re surrounded by English-only speakers!)

However, the winter I had left was absolutely nothing like the winter I was about to face. The thing about moving from Virginia (a place where the bulk of winter takes place December to January) to Massachusetts (a place where winter is November to February, March even), is that you get disappointed very fast when you hope for spring to come in March.  Well, it is March 13, and there is still snow on the ground. Albeit, this is (almost) a record-breaking winter. So. Many. Storms. Four days off school in three weeks, almost all on Mondays – and last year, there was only one day off the entire year. Let’s just say, for sake of all of our sanity, it was a LOT of snow, and a LOT of days of school to make up for!

The snow outside the library. It got to be taller than a lot of people!

Some snow outside the library. It got to be taller than a lot of people!

Besides that, the new semester has been okay. Not incredibly exciting, but not out-of-this-world challenging. However, I have grown to appreciate my friends and my roommate a lot more this year. This semester has had its’ fair share of challenges, and my friends have really been there for me. For Valentine’s Day, most of these friends are single for something we nickname “Single’s Awareness Day”. But it was okay – the day fell on a Saturday, so we went out to a diner for brunch, and had a secret Valentine exchange (like Secret Santa). It was really fun, and I love how my friends are so fun and there for each other.

Friends

Friends

Now, I’m writing from somewhere I’ve never been: Vermont! My friend, Kirstin, invited me to her house for our week-long spring break. Except it’s not really spring, because there’s still snow everywhere and your average day is somewhere below freezing. Kirstin technically lives on a farm – although she doesn’t consider it to be, it fits all the farm requirements for me! – horses, goats, chickens, a rooster, barn cats…. the works.

IMG_4520

The meadow

Have you ever been to a farm? The closest I’ve ever been to a farm was a petting zoo, but of course that isn’t really a farm. Although I love being at Kirstin’s – her family is great, and we watch great TV (see the new show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!). Of course there are boring moments, but it is definitely an experience to be somewhere you’ve never been before!

Sometimes I think about where I am right now, and then I think of the places where it is warm – even hot! Places like Florida, California, New Zealand – I have friends who currently live in or are visiting those places, and I am incredibly jealous. It will be sunny soon enough, and summer will come. It might be a bit of a wait, though.

 

 

Winter China 2: The tropical land of China

I left off last time at leaving the cold, freezing-my-butt-off mountains of Yunnan. We left there for… wait for it… XiShuangBanNa – A.K.A. the tropical land of China! A little about the area: it borders the country of Laos, it’s a big tourist attraction, and has palm trees and sun year-round. Pretty much the opposite of where we just came from!

Plenty of palm trees, and houses that are built on top of poles to allow animals to live underneath.

Plenty of palm trees, and houses that are built on top of poles to allow animals to live underneath.

We moved into our hotel on the 22nd. We were definitely happy to be there! On the 24th (Christmas Eve and my dad’s birthday), we did whatever my dad decided he wanted to do – which was rent bikes, bike to a hot springs, and eat at his new favorite café, MeiMei Café. The rest of us were happy to oblige, as MeiMei’s suited everyone’s taste. Western food is not hard to find in China these days, but good coffee and Belgian chocolate is, and MeiMei had all of the above. Of course we had to have a birthday celebration, which we kept rather low-key: a candle on the cheesecake he ordered delivered to the tune of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. After we got home, we gave a couple presents. Of course, the presents didn’t end there as tomorrow would be Christmas.

As you can probably guess, Christmas spent abroad in a tropical place is a bit unorthodox, to say the least. (No chance for a white Christmas, for starters!) Don’t worry, the hotel had a massive Christmas tree with a ton of depictions of Santa Claus. To make sure that we had enough Christmas spirit, I brought a couple ‘spirited’ elements: a Santa hat, light-up necklace, and Santa bobble-headband, all from the Dollar Store. We put the presents on the bed, and opened them as we usually do: we go around in a circle, each person choosing then opening one present at a time. It was… different. But still good, because the entire family had been reunited after six months apart. We spent most of Christmas day at a botanical forest, seeing plants that are hard to believe even exist, and then at an highly-sexualized minority group performance that we decided we’d leave. So although location definitely helps with the nostalgia and traditional homey feelings, location doesn’t determine who the family is. You can’t chose your family, but you can chose to love and have fun with them. I’m just glad I have a family that’s easy (most of the time!) to have fun with. 🙂

After XiShuangBanNa, we knew we were headed to my mom’s hometown in the Jiangsu province (she is Chinese and originally from that area), but we didn’t know we were just rolling in without a plan. Definitely an experience and adventure. More to come!

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” -George Bernard Shaw

Winter China 1: Yunnan, or Real China

You may have heard that I went to China over my winter break (and I’m just now writing about it. Without the weekly update requirement like I had at NDFH, it’s easier for me to slack off! Plus, I didn’t have my computer with me half the time, which doesn’t help anything.) China isn’t a top winter destination – especially considering the big sights are absolutely freezing this time of year. My family and I went because my brother, Jon, is doing his senior year of high school abroad in Beijing (the big city outside of which I was at this summer), and we wanted to spend Christmas with him. So we did. Not everything went as planned, though…

After taking my last final exam at school on Thursday, 12/18, I finished packing and a lot of other last-minute things before I got on a plane – a direct flight headed to the Beijing airport. I flew Hainan Airlines there, which was alright except literally everyone was 100% Chinese… let’s leave it there and just say they don’t especially cater towards non-Chinese people. I arrived in the evening. From there, I took a taxi to the serviced apartment that my family was staying in. (A serviced apartment is half-hotel, half-apartment – you pay rent and then you can come whenever you want and they’ll clean for you if you like. Pretty sweet deal!) The rest of my family had gotten in a few days earlier, because my two younger brothers don’t have final exams. Anyways, a little after I arrived and found the apartment, the rest of my family came back from an event at Jon’s school. Lots of hugs ‘n stuff. Well, all I unpacked was my pajamas, because the whole family was hopping on a plane the next day.

The plane was headeYunnand to KunMing, the capital of YunNan province, which is in southwestern-most China. Don’t be deceived by the ‘south’, though – dependent on where you go, it can still be very cold. We were headed to Wenzong, my parents’ missionary friend’s, village. His village is in the remote mountains of YunNan. We hadn’t been to the village in some time, and since Wenzong is good friends with my family, we wanted to see how he was doing too. Some friends came with us, wanting to spend some time learning in a very different version of China.

Shanghai

Shanghai

One of the things that I’ve started learning about is that China has changed so fast. Not even 100 years ago, Chinese men were wearing the half-shaved head braid and being ruled by emperors. We went on a lot of walks – looking around, visiting homes in the village or going on hikes – and Jon and I got to talk a lot. We talked about all sorts of things, but we also talked about China’s strange-but-true history – the crazy Cultural Revolution, the changes, how Western cultures often overlook China’s history, and now everyone’s shocked that China’s economy is going to overtake America’s in just a few years. Quite honestly, I don’t know that much about Chinese history. Jon has been learning a lot of it in his classes, so he shared with me about the Long March, the Cultural Revolution, and how is was so, well, revolutionizing. I realized that it was not simply a cultural, but more like an Every-aspect-of-life Revolution. We later brainstormed up an idea – that one summer when we’re both in college, we should go on a two-month-long or so trip to China, taking the public transportation to just about everywhere, and exploring real China – finding China for what it really is. As we talked about this, we walked by mountains and small cement-if-you’re-lucky houses, on the main road that had just recently been paved, in a village that had just gotten running water. This was real China.

We spent a total of three days in Wenzong’s village. Meals were simple, and life wasn’t complicated. My parents had thought spending Christmas in the village would be nice, since it came very close to what the first Christmas had been like: in a barn, with animals, without the glamour that we put on it today. The one thing was that it was so. dang. cold. Every day we put on all the layers we could fit under the biggest jacket we brought. It was below freezing, all the time. Staying inside wasn’t any better, because there were no heating systems. Radiators weren’t great either, since you could only feel any of its warmth when you were right over it. My first night, I was shivering because I had thought my normal pajamas would be okay – I would have to put on socks, long sleeves, with three blankets covering even the top of my head, to be okay. The entire time was below freezing. People around me lived in these conditions, though, so it is humanly possible to live like this. Sometimes I appreciate being in places like this, because it makes me appreciate where the Chinese have been, and where they’re coming from. Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting the whole China experience when I’m staying at a Marriott and drinking apple juice with breakfast. I feel a bit cheated of my China experience, because I know my experiences don’t align with so many of the Chinese people’s. This time in the village, though, definitely came much closer to that experience.

The teachers at the school that Wenzong had started were interim teachers – they would probably only stay for a couple years. We got to see class in session, and take a group photo. One girl had the same Chinese name as me! After three days, it still wasn’t Christmas, but we so cold that my parents decided they’d spent enough time in the village, and our friends agreed.  My youngest two brothers, Peter and James, got the chance to herd goats and ‘be farmers’ with some nice villagers for an entire afternoon. At dinner that night Peter told us about their day, adding that the goats would need them tomorrow. My dad told us about XiShuangBanNa – a county in the ‘state’ of YunNan, if you will. Oh, and it’s tropical and warm. “The goats really need me tomorrow – wait, good thing I brought my swimsuit!” – in the same sentence, Peter had totally changed gears. We were fine with that. We were going to XiShuangBanNa the next day, and we prepared ourselves for anything warmer than what we felt at the moment. Sometimes I’m glad that China’s westernized, but I’m thankful I got to experience ‘real China’, at least for a few days.

 

(Note: It is with great sadness that I write about the one tragedy of my China trip: my phone, forgotten in a taxi ride. Just so you know, the pictures that I have of China are not my own – they’re going to be from someone else. 😦 )